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Unemployment, low income, substance abuse, and domestic violence found in many child abuse deaths
On July 13, 2016, the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) released the state’s latest child fatality data. DCS reviewed 239 child deaths from state-fiscal year 2014, varying in causes ranging from drownings, to gunshot wounds, to overdoses, and beatings.
In addition, a report was compiled specifically regarding 66 child deaths directly resulting from abuse or neglect. DCS had prior history with four of the children. Among the children that died, there was an increase in the number of fatalities due to a lack of active supervision. Specifically, children not being supervised around bodies of water, unsafe sleeping practices and unsafe home heating methods.
The report also shows a continuing pattern of children one year or younger as the primary victim, as well as one or more significant stress factors for the perpetrators such as unemployment, low income, substance abuse, or domestic violence. In some cases, multiple stress factors were present in a single home
"Each one of these deaths could have been prevented,” said Director Mary Beth Bonaventura. “We publish a yearly fatality report to educate and remind all Hoosiers to be vigilant about prevention. We are constantly working with other state agencies and local child advocates to address the continuing pattern of multiple stress factors that lead to child fatalities. As summer begins, it is important to re-emphasize water safety and to never leave a child unattended in a hot car, ever.”
Of the children who died from abuse, 50 percent were one year of age or younger. Of the neglect deaths, 46 percent of the children were one year of age or younger as well.
“Our infants and toddlers are the most vulnerable of all our children,” added Bonaventura. “And smaller children demand active supervision, attention, care, and patience—which may be difficult to give if someone has low or poor parenting skills, or is dealing with multiple stress factors, including substance abuse.”
Bonaventura added this is an issue that DCS cannot handle alone, and reminds all Hoosiers to call the Indiana Child Abuse Hotline at 800.800.5556, if they suspect any child is being abused or neglected.